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2. Set

In this activity…

Students watch a TEDx Youth Talk to understand that optimism is a choice and that it can be learned. They use this information to reflect on their conclusions from the previous lesson’s writing activity.

Time: 15-20 minutes


For this activity, students should have the previous lessons writing activity readily available. In this activity, students were asked to use their knowledge of neuroplasticity and growth mindset to make an argument about whether it’s possible to choose optimism, and to learn how to be optimistic. Give students a minute to briefly review their answer and, as a class, take a couple of minutes to discuss the student's answers as well as their reasoning. Hopefully, most students will have concluded that it is possible to choose optimism and that optimism is a learned skill. However, be sure to ask if anyone had a different opinion and, if so, then allow those students' voices to also be heard.

Next, watch the 10-minute TEDx Youth Talk, “Choosing Optimism”.

After the video, confirm that optimism is a choice and it is a skill that can be learned. Share that it can be dangerous to call people ‘optimists’ or ‘pessimists’ because this implies that optimism and pessimism are character traits; a way of being that cannot be changed. Instead, talking about optimistic and pessimistic explanatory styles helps students recognize that optimism and pessimism are just that: ways of thinking; a lens through which students see the world.

Remind students that, based on what they know about neuroplasticity and growth mindset, they have the power to rewire the brain and to see the world differently. Before finishing this introductory activity, ask if students have any questions or if there are any students who remain doubtful of their ability to learn optimism. If so, take some time to address students' concerns.